The Matrix ushered in a new generation of sci-fi movies and futuristic plotlines with a relentless, seemingly invulnerable set of villains. Twenty years later, that theme is all too familiar to security pros.

It’s difficult to believe that The Matrix celebrated its 20th anniversary in March. It’s equally hard to ignore how well the film has stood the test of time. With Oscar-winning innovations in stunt work and special effects such as “bullet time,” the sci-fi epic starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne changed Hollywood, according to some film critics.
At least, I think so.
It’s not just the special effects and plot development that remain fresh. What’s relevant for security professionals is the similarities between the characters and plot and how we look at modern security practices and technology.
The film’s protagonist — the computer programmer Mr. Anderson, played by Reeves — is one of billions of humans unwittingly inhabiting a simulated reality, referred to as the “Matrix.” Through a process of self-realization and literal rebirth, he becomes the hero, Neo. The process has been triggered by his choice of swallowing a “red pill” of reality instead of the “blue pill” that will keep him ignorantly complacent in a contrived, alternative, and manipulative world.
Neo is analogous to present-day CISOs: security professionals who have taken the “red pill” and are awake to the reality of protecting a real-life business amid the frightening, shape-shifting threats from cybercriminals seeking to do harm. In The Matrix, this ever-present evil is determined to destroy Zion, the last human-inhabited city in the world.
How Neo Battled the ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’Shape-shifting is core to the movie’s plot. “Agents,” Neo’s sinister enemies, take over the bodies of innocent bystanders in their relentless pursuit of Neo and his crew. The cybersecurity analogy here is an advanced persistent threat (APT) …

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Author: Stephen Cox VP & CSA, SecureAuth

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